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Skiing: One Boom China Can't Sustain

Investors bet big that sport would take off; still waiting
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2010 8:07 PM CST
Skiing: One Boom China Can't Sustain
A skier has a chair lift built for six all to himself at Yabuli International ski resort.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – The Chinese have adopted any number of Western status symbols—cars, clothes, little dogs—but skiing isn’t one, to the tremendous disappointment of developers who made huge bets on the country’s first winter-sports resorts. The $140 million Yabuli International extravaganza opened last year near northeastern Harbin, but, as a Telegraph reporter’s fellow skier asks, “Where is everyone?”

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“I’m sure there will come a moment in China when skiing explodes, but if you had asked me in 2004 ‘when’ that moment would come, I’d have said ‘2006,’” says an Italian investor in another resort, echoing Chinese predictions that 20 million will visit ski resorts by 2014—though only about 2 million do now, not the 5 million authorities would have you believe. “If you’d asked me again in 2006, I’d have said ‘2010,’ but it just hasn’t happened.”
(Read more China stories.)

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